The charges against John Damson of Havre have been dropped by the Hill County attorney.
Damson, born in 1973, was charged in July with rape and incest after he was accused of sexually molesting a toddler-aged relative.
Montana District Court Judge David Cybulski of Plentywood dismissed those charges at the request of the county attorney.
Damson’s attorney, Jeremy Yellin, said this morning that he believes the charges stemmed from a court dispute Damson had with a relative of the alleged victim.
“We’re very pleased that the government did the right thing and dismissed the case, ” Yellin said. “It’s my opinion that these allegations were driven by nothing more than (the legal) dispute and not any criminal wrongdoing. ”
In its motion to dismiss, the Hill County attorney said that the state was unable to proceed with the prosecution due to the youth of the alleged victim.
“Despite the State's firm conviction that the Defendant sexually assaulted (the alleged victim), the state is unable to meet the burden of proof due to the child's age, ” the brief says.
A call requesting comment from the Hill County attorney had not been returned by deadline this morning.
The prosecution had requested that the testimony of the child be presented as hearsay because, its motion says, the child is too young to stand up to testifying in court.
In his brief against that motion, Yellin argued that the entire prosecution is based on the testimony of the child. Not being able to face his accuser would violate Damson’s constitutional rights, he said.
The case originally was under the jurisdiction of District Judge Dan Boucher. After a request was made Aug. 4 to change judges, Boucher recused himself and Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown assumed jurisdiction.
After a motion was made Aug. 22 to again change the judge, Phillips recused himself and Cybulski assumed jurisdiction.